After pandemic-related stops and starts, Wenzhou-Kean University’s Ge Hekai Hall has finally begun to see full occupancy. Located in Wenzhou, China, about five hours south of Shanghai, Ge Hekai Hall serves as the front door to the university’s 175-acre campus. Designed by Moore Ruble Yudell, Ge Hekai Hall houses three schools, including architecture and design, for Wenzhou-Kean University, a joint venture between New Jersey’s Kean University and China’s Wenzhou University.
Ge Hekai Hall’s gateway portico nods to both the surrounding mountain landscape and the high-rise residential towers across the street. The structure comprises eight buildings that contain classrooms, offices, shops, and a library. Evoking traditional Chinese alleyway neighborhoods, the alleys between the buildings provide light and air, multiple entries, and spaces for informal interaction. Accessible 24/7, the building’s rooftops are connected by a network of bridges. Atop these linear buildings sit two high-bay studio loft buildings.
“The building design concept revolves around sets of dualities: China’s past and future, building techniques old and new, and a set of orthogonal lower buildings supporting an active, angular upper building,” Christopher Chan, AIA, principal-in-charge of the project at Moore Ruble Yudell, said in a statement.
At the intersection of the lower and upper buildings, a civic-scaled atrium called the Forum serves as a community and social hub, an extension of the classrooms, and an 800-person event venue for the entire university.
Designed to LEED Gold and China Two-Star standards, the building integrates facade sunshades, a photovoltaic array, rainwater harvesting, thermal massing with a heat recovery system, and a passively cooled atrium. To enhance wellness, the design provides ample indirect sunlight and biophilic elements, such as over 2,000 square meters of solid wood. In addition, the building provides only the code minimum number of elevators, encouraging people to use the stairs in the Forum atrium.
On the Building Team:
Owner: Wenzhou-Kean University
Design architect, interior design, and landscape design: Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners
Associate architect: Tongji University Architecture Design Research Institute
Architect of record: Zhongtian Construction Architectural Design Institute
Structural, civil, and MEP engineer: Zhongtian Construction Group Company Limited
Building and atrium lighting designer: Brandston Partnership Incorporated (BPI)
General contractor: Zhongtian Construction Group Company Limited